It is now almost ten years since the tragic disappearance of Madeleine McCann. I would not have been particularly aware of the anniversary except that I read today of another cruel attack by one person on another by means of social media – this time being Twitter. Karen Danczuk appears to have given herself the right to be judge and jury over the whole affair and very publicly seek to drag the McCanns again through the mud over what must be every parents’ worst nightmare.
What strikes me about this latest attack is not the actual subject matter, but the culture we now live in where anyone can say anything they like and, at the touch of a button, their attacks on another are out in the public domain doing untold damage, whether the allegations are true or not.
Even if accusations being made are true, is this really the way a civilised society wants to treat one another? We read of cyber bullying by children at school which increasingly leads to serious difficulties of isolation and eventual suicide by children and young people.
We have a judicial system whereby you are innocent until proven guilty but the power of social media has rather done away with that right. Is social media spiralling down into the realms of the gutter press? Whilst it is possible to request to have a post removed, once it is out there the damage is done and people will always choose to believe what they want to believe. It is very easy to sit within one’s four walls and send out and receive gossip.
Gossip is powerful in its destruction. Now you may not have any belief in God but there are many instants in the Bible where the issue of gossip is dealt with by condemnation of the one who gossips and those who spread it further, either by passing it on or just as powerfully, by choosing to listen to or read what is being written and not challenging it.
Luke 6:31 says ‘Do to others as you would have them do to you’. It seems that we all have the power to stop gossip and if every piece of gossip was stopped in its tracks it would lose its power.
I hope and pray that the McCanns and many others whose lives become public property by the power of media will have the strength to overcome the cowardice that lies behind this very worrying culture.
Every blessing, Rachel Foster
A few weeks back I took part in the RSPB’s bird watch. I sat down and watched and counted the birds that visited my garden. I have to say that word must have got around as to what I was doing, as there seemed to be a lack of birds of all varieties who frequent the feeders in the garden normally! No collared doves, no magpies or long tailed tits! The next day I saw all of the above along with a bullfinch. However, sitting there quietly for an hour gave me time to reflect on the beauty of creation. It made me think of the words of that popular hymn “All things bright and beautiful”. Especially the words of one verse which say,
“Each little flower that opens,
Each little bird that sings,
He made their glowing colours,
He made their tiny wings."
The hymn reminds us that we have a creator God, and if we take a moment to look around it is hard not to believe in a creator making our world. We are given a rendition of creation in the book of Genesis in the Bible (chapter 1). For me however it is a passage which has a lot of understatement in it. Each day after God has created something, a lot of translations state that it “was good”! To me creation is marvellous. I often think would I have the imagination to design a tiger or a duck billed platypus! But God did and does.
I often wonder what it must have been like on the ark with all the different noises, colours and shapes of the animals. From the money spider to the elephant, and the parrot to the snake!
Now you may not agree with me and as to the truth of creation, and prefer to go with the theory of evolution and the big bang. But no matter what you believe take time to sit and look at this wonderful world we have around us, no matter how busy you are there is always time to pause and see the beauty that surrounds us. As you do this you will find that a peace which you cannot explain will come upon you. Then, when you begin work again it will be that little bit easier, and you will be able to approach it with a new mindset.
The other day I was surprised to read that suicide is the biggest cause of death of British men under 50 years of age. I was expecting it to be heart disease or cancer. And yet, on reflection, should I be so surprised?
Western, liberal cultures, like ours, seem to be doing their utmost to disregard the truth believed by all Christians that human beings are made in the image of God. Instead, we are constantly fed the “truth” that human beings are no more (or less) than any other animal. There is no doubting the great beauty and variety of the animal kingdom (also made by God, of course), yet the Bible teaches only human beings are created in God’s image. And only human beings have the ability to experience God’s highest and deepest love, not animals.
So it seems to me, when it comes to having a right and true value of ourselves, being informed of just how much we are valued and loved by God, is a far healthier position to be in, rather than being told we are nothing more than an animal. With the latter, it is hardly surprising we are unable to cope with life’s traumas and will go on to suffer from mental health issues. The surprise is there aren’t many more with problems! Perhaps, though, others are just more adept at ignoring their deepest concerns, or perhaps they’re just better at covering it up, or they are stronger at living by the laws of the jungle and the survival of the fittest.
Christianity is different from all other religions, in that it doesn’t tell you to summon up all your strength in order to live as you ought, or that it’s ok if you just live the best life you can. It doesn’t appeal to the strong who can pull it all together and draw on their mental, spiritual and physical resources to get them through. Only Jesus says, “I have come for the weak. I have come for those who admit they are weak. I will save them not by what they do, but through what I do.”
At the climax of his life, Jesus, by whom and through whom all things were created, didn’t go to his rightful throne as Creator and King of all things, instead, such was his love for us, he went to the cross. He came to this earth, as our substitute, to bear evil, suffering and death. He did this so that if we believe, we can be reconciled to him, so when he comes again, the second time, as the almighty and powerful King, he can end all evil without ending us.
The conclusion? It doesn’t matter what traumas you may be currently going through. It doesn’t matter how badly you’ve messed up, or how helpless and despairing you feel; if you repent and come to God through Jesus, not only will God accept you and work in your life, but he delights to work through people like you! He’s been doing it through the whole of human history.